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Where It Began

Review

Where It Began

When 17-year-old Gabby wakes up in a hospital bed, everything seems foggy. Try as she might, she can't remember her name, but even in her confusion she can't forget Billy Nash --- perfect, beautiful Billy Nash --- who marks a turning point in her entire existence. As she starts to remember who she is, she also recalls the accident, or at least the aftermath: Billy's car wrapped around a tree, and herself drunk and broken on the ground by the driver’s side with the keys in her hand. Her face is so badly bruised and cut that no one will let her look in a mirror, and her arm is so badly broken that it barely looks like an arm, but none of that matters to her because no one will tell her what happened to Billy.

"What makes Gabby such a readable and relatable protagonist is her self-awareness countered by her blind love and adoration of  Billy.... WHERE IT BEGAN is told in a funny, unique voice that turns this thick novel into a quick read."

To pass the time in the hospital and try to make sense of how she ended up there, Gabby begins replaying scenes from her life, or her two lives, in her head. Because for Gabby there was a before, when she was a nobody, nothing but a disappointment to her parents for underachieving academically and socially at her fancy private school; and an after, after a summer makeover makes the wonderful Billy Nash notice her, after she becomes his girlfriend and nothing else matters. Even as the police start trying to talk to her and she realizes how much trouble she could be in for driving drunk, she barely cares because once she learns Billy walked away from the accident uninjured, all that matters is getting back to him and to her after.

What makes Gabby such a readable and relatable protagonist is her self-awareness countered by her blind love and adoration of  Billy. From the beginning, she knows he notices her because of her new and improved looks and that his arrests and other misdeeds seem to disappear because of his family's wealth and power. She's so overpowered by his appearance and charms that she convinces herself he has fallen in love with her. Even as her problems stack up, even as painful truths about what kind of guy he is and the lies he told comes out, she still holds out hope that she heard wrong, misunderstood, or that somehow everything can get back to the way they were.

Gabby's relationship with her vapid, materialistic mother is also an interesting dynamic within WHERE IT BEGAN. While Gabby hates that her mother was so desperate to make her over into a prettier, more acceptable daughter, she's grateful that the makeover brought her Billy. Even though she resents the fact that almost as soon as she was lucid after the accident her mother makes constant make-up runs to try to cover the damage to her face, she's glad she has the pounds of concealer when Billy comes to see her. She recognizes her mother's selfishness and the importance she places on looks, but also realizes it has worked to her advantage sometimes.

WHERE IT BEGAN is told in a funny, unique voice that turns this thick novel into a quick read. Any reader will be pulled in watching Gabby realize that she wants more in her life than she had before her accident, learning to accept hard truths and the difference between people who really care about her and those whose affection is just an illusion.

Reviewed by Molly Horan on April 27, 2012

Where It Began
by Ann Redisch Stampler

  • Publication Date: February 19, 2013
  • Genres: Fiction, Romance, Young Adult 14+
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • ISBN-10: 1442423226
  • ISBN-13: 9781442423220